Counting Your Blessings

“I have nothing to wear!” said the young woman pulling through her closet, discarding outfit after outfit because she didn’t like them any more. “I’m going to have to go shopping right away!”

“We have almost nothing to wear,” said the mother of three young children who fled the recent hurricane in Florida, with only a hastily packed bag of clothes and medications, baby formula and a few toys. Her home was almost destroyed and their belongings that were left behind are scattered to who knows where? “We have almost no money to get anything right now. I hope the Red Cross can help us.”

“Chicken again? We had that two nights ago! I don’t want the same thing again. What else do we have? I don’t want pork chops, and I don’t want spaghetti. There’s just nothing in this refrigerator good to eat. Let’s go out somewhere. Maybe to that new steakhouse, where we can order whatever we want.” Obviously her refrigerator- and stove – are working fine. She just doesn’t want the food she has in her kitchen, and probably doesn’t care if it goes to waste.

Compare that to this: a family in one of the hurricane refugee centers waiting for their evening meal of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and lukewarm water because that’s all there is until more supplies arrive the next day. They’d love to have a nice chicken or spaghetti dinner. But right now they’re just happy to have food until they can go back to their home. And hopefully they’ll still have a kitchen they can use and food to prepare in it.

“I’m really tired of this car! I don’t like the color, and I don’t like the model any more. It’s too small and, well, it just doesn’t fit my lifestyle any more. I mean, I need something more sporty. Something that shouts ‘look at me!’ I know it’s only a few years old, and almost paid for, but I just have to have something better! You know how that is!” Sure do; but aren’t your wants and needs a bit misplaced? Consider this…

“The storm ruined both of our vehicles,” the man said sadly. “Totally ruined. The wind blew a tree down on my wife’s car, and the water came up and flooded out my truck. Both were paid off, and both of us need vehicles. Insurance will give us money for both cars, but it’s not going to be enough to replace both of them, not without monthly payments. We just can’t afford that right now. And with all the ruined cars here right now, it’s going to take weeks or even months to find something we can afford. I really don’t know what we’re going to do.”

“I really don’t like this job. I’m not appreciated. It’s not fun, and I don’t like the people I work with. The pay is ok, but I really deserve more. It’s just not what I want to do. I should just quit and look for something else.”

Well, it could be worse. You could be in this person’s situation. “I had a good job. It wasn’t the greatest job in the world but it paid the bills and even gave me a little extra to put away for emergencies. Well now that emergency is here. The business is closed because of the hurricane, and I have no idea if they’ll be able to reopen anytime soon, or even at all. I have no idea what we’re going to do… We have to have an income to survive”

“This house is just not what we want any more. The neighborhood isn’t fun like it used to be. The carpet’s old and needs cleaning. And the house needs painting, too, and that’s a hassle. We need something with more prestige, in a nicer part of town. I wonder if we could get a new mortgage?! And sell this old place? I’m really tired of it.” Really? At least you have a home that’s intact. Paint and carpet are no big deals, you know. That’s easy.

Put yourself in these families’ place. Their homes are heavily damaged, some to the point of being condemned. One mobile home park was totally destroyed. Many families will be returning from evacuation to find nothing left; nothing salvageable. Yes, they have insurance, but think of what they’ve lost and what it will take to rebuild. The months of living in shelters or with others until they can either rebuild or hopefully find something else to buy or rent. No furnishings, not even beds and sheets and towels. No dishes or cookware. Starting totally over with only the few clothes they have left.

How would you or I handle it?

Like millions of other people, we watched the storms as they lashed out in Texas and Florida, pummeling everything in their paths. We prayed and hoped for the best; we worried about friends and relatives in the storms’ path. We were amazed at the strength and severity Mother Nature was unleashing. We couldn’t believe what we were seeing.

And we were thankful it wasn’t us. Am I right?

As I’m writing this there are some 8.2 MILLION homes without electricity. It will be days, perhaps weeks, even months in some cases, before power is restored. No refrigeration, no heat or air conditioning. No way to hear news broadcasts except with battery powered radios and televisions, if they have them. No way to charge cell phones or laptop computers. No internet.

No way to get gas from pumps that are powered by electricity, that is, if your can is still drivable. No way to purchase anything if there are even stores open unless you have cash because debit and credit cards won’t work without electricity.

No way to make ice, or keep food cold.

No fresh water. No way to bathe or flush toilets.

Need I go on?

We complain daily about our lives, just like the examples above. Sometimes we have fairly good reasons, but most of the times our complaints are minuscule in comparison to what I’ve described. I still remember the three days we spent without power or running water after Isabel hit us over ten years ago. And that was mild. But we complained. A lot.

Thinking back, we had no reason to complain compared to this.

If you weren’t affected by these storms you have so very much to be thankful for. Unfortunately we usually fail to fully appreciate what we have until we lose it; we take our blessings for granted. We don’t know the value of what we have until we don’t have it any more.

Count your blessings today. And be thankful.


Please note: If you wish to help out with hurricane relief there are a number of agencies and websites where you can donate. Check on your favorite search engine to find the one that’s right for you.

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